Massa needs fast 2012 start to stay with Ferrari

If Felipe Massa wants to remain at Ferrari beyond this season, he's going to have to start winning again — immediately.

Updated: January 12, 2012 20:16 IST
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Madonna di Campiglio, Italy: If Felipe Massa wants to remain at Ferrari beyond this season, he's going to have to start winning again — immediately.

The Brazilian hasn't won a race since a life-threatening accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 and his contract expires at the end of this year.

"The first part of the season is very important for my future," Massa said on Thursday at Ferrari's annual winter retreat in the Italian Dolomites. "Competitive teams always decide their plans ahead of time."

Massa's last win came before his home fans at the season-ending Brazilian GP in 2008 — which was also the year he finished second in the driver standings.

However, Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season after his accident in Hungary. His left eye still bears evidence of his injuries and he finished sixth in the standings in the last two seasons.

Last year was especially tough for Massa, never finishing higher than fifth in a grand prix and having to retire from three races. He also had several accidents with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

"I want a competitive year, without so many things happening during races, things that are not so nice," Massa said. "I would like to start a race and finish where I want and not further back with many fewer points than expected."

Massa is optimistic for a turnaround this year, saying he has put extensive input into Ferrari's completely revised car that will be presented on Feb. 3.

"We've been working on the new car for many months now — in every moment," Massa said. "We will definitely have positive things to say after the car gets on the track."

And he's confident that new tire specialist Hirohide Hamashima — who was announced as a new hiring on Wednesday — can help him adapt better to the harder tires that he struggled with so much last year.

"Hamashima is a great engineer and he knows everything about tires, so it should be positive in general for the team and for me," Massa said of the former Bridgestone engineer. "I have a less aggressive style of driving and it's harder to warm up the tires and get grip right away, especially in the first lap."

Still, teammate Fernando Alonso is expected to be Ferrari's lead driver again, and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel will be aiming for his third consecutive title.

So who is Massa's title favorite?

"I don't have a favorite," Massa said. "I want to win it."

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